Why "Ask Semphonic"? Because the questions are often more valuable than the answers.
In T'ai Chi (a "soft" marshal art that uses the soft to overcome the hard and the mind to overcome physical strength), there is a saying that I think applies very well to web analytics. "Know yourself and know others: in one hundred battles you will win one hundred times." The question is how best to know yourself and others from a web analytics perspective.
Just when you think you've gotten your web analytics under control, things change. Changes can be from any of three major perspectives: business, web site technology, or analytic tools. A marketing channel is no longer as effective as it once was. Your customer base is changing. You have a new product. Competition changes. Then there is always web site technology. You may redo your site in Flash or some other rich media with capabilities you never had before. Clients may be accessing your site through their cell phones, or RSS feeds may all of a sudden take off. Web 2.0 is here and Web 3.0 is on the way. Finally, there is your analytic tool. Pricing, capabilities, or even availability may change. What do you do?
So how do you know your web-analytic-self as well as web-analytic-others so that you can "in one hundred battles win one hundred times" with all this change going on? Start by asking questions. Start with some overview questions such as does your web analytics support your business objectives and how does it do it? Then get into the details of how. What site KPI's do you measure? How? Do you use segmentation? How? Do you track online campaigns? How? Do you track links? How? Do you measure any online processes? How? Do you do longitudinal analysis? How? What kind of web reporting do you do? How do you do it? Keep on going.
Put together a comprehensive list of questions that covers your web site from all three perspectives: business, web site technology, and web analytic tool. As your experience and expertise increase, keep adding to your list of questions and periodically re-ask them. You'll find that the questions are more important than the answers. Why, because the answers are continually changing while the questions don't change very much. If you have a good set of questions, any time there is a change in your environment all you have to do go to your question list and ask. On the other hand, if you just had a list of answers, how would you handle change?
If questions are the answer to how "in one hundred battles you will win one hundred times," what's the best way to take advantage of Ask Semphonic? Prepare your questions. To make sure you're not missing any, categorize them by the three perspectives, business, web site technology, web analytic tools. Select a few you think are the most important and submit them. Then during Ask Semphonic listen to the questions as much as you do to the answers.
When listening to the questions, remember that there are four different types of questions:
- Questions you know the answers to.
- Questions you understand but don't know the answers.
- Questions you know but don't understand.
- Questions you don't even know.
All four are important, but the last two, questions you don't understand and questions you don't even know about can be the most important. You may not need them today, but write them down. They could very well be the questions that give you the winning edge sometime in the future.
What I like about Ask Semphonic is that it gives you the best of both questions and answers. In short run the answers may be most valuable, but in the long run it's the questions. Semphonic consultants are a great resource for answers. Participants, and at this writing there are over 50, are a fantastic resource for questions.
The first Ask Semphonic takes place on December 11 at 11:00AM PST, 2:00PM EST (check out http://www.semphonic.com/analytics/asksem.asp) and will be about the Omniture acquisition of Visual Sciences. This will not only affect Visual Sciences and Omniture customers, but also has the potential of affecting others in so far as it changes the market dynamics of web analytic tools. The answers given today, may or may not be relevant a year from now. However, I'm sure most of the questions will be relevant. If you're forearmed with the right questions, you will be able to "Know yourself and know others: in one hundred battles you will win one hundred times."